Pregnant mom’s life cut short by opioids — her starkly honest tale
WAYNE — A young woman's life is being remembered with compassion — and her death with blunt honesty — by her family.
Justyna Dolegowski, 20, of Wayne was six months pregnant when she died on Jan. 16. Her family remembered her as a "lovely, beautiful young woman" preparing for motherhood, according to her obituary.
"The whole family was filled with excitement ... Just one week ago, Justyna was with her mother and siblings at home admiring Christian’s baby kicks. There was a special joy and light in her eyes, and she just couldn’t wait to hold (her son) in her arms," her obituary reads. She was due in April.
But her obituary is also — like many published in New Jersey over the last year — starkly honest about the cause of death: Dolegowski died because of a heroin addiction, her family says.
"Heroin will kidnap you, raise you, take your soul and return only your body to your family," her obituary reads.
The reaction from family and friends after reading the obituary was one of shock, according to her sister, Beata Dolegowski.
"Justyna was the type of girl that no one would ever, ever expect it from her. It's so common now. It could grab people's attention and to get more awareness. We could have an obituary explaining her life and how good a girl she was but it's not enough. People need to know," Beata Dolegowski told New Jersey 101.5.
Beata Dolegowski said that her sister had been clean for almost a year before she died, but said the craving for opioids never goes away.
"You can be clean for 15 years, you can be clean for three months. It takes over your whole brain. Your whole everything," Beata said,
Beata Dolegowski encouraged others who may be faced with a similar situation to get help.
"Don't be afraid to open up. Let people know. Everyone knows somebody who has been through an addiction, not just with heroin. Pills, alcohol. weed, anything. People need to know that you can have help. There is help around you,"
It was similar to an obituary for Carter Stone, a Ventor City man who died of an overdose at the age of 32 last September. His story is recounted below:
Stone's mother, Wendy Galbraith told New Jersey 101.5 he was prescribed opioids to help with pain after a car crash. When he ran out of pills, he hit the streets to find a similar high. But that was becoming too costly. So he moved to the next and cheaper option — heroin.
“Unfortunately, in the last year of Carter’s life, he used prescription opioids to cope with some stressful situations … In a matter of a couple months, heroin took a hold of Carter and never let go," his mother
There have been others in the past several months as well.
- In a Sept. 3 obituary for 26-year-old Troy A. Wilcox Jr., of Franklin, his family asked that “everyone create a dialogue about this horrible disease” that took Wilcox’s life.
- The obituary for Bradley Yucius, who was laid to rest in Newton on Sept. 23, said he was working hard to get healthy, but “heroin won.”
Beata Dolegowski echoed the sentiment of Peter Kulbacki of the Brunswick Funeral Home in East Brunswick who shared his frustration at the increase opioid deaths from from suburban areas considered to be "safe" from crime and drugs.
"The deaths we’re handling are from good families. From good parents. People that I know, that as far as I can tell, they did a good job. So where did the addiction come from? Where did the poison come from? It’s insane. It’s really insane," he told New Jersey 101.5.
"We're from Wayne. Wayne is a good town. It's great teachers, great teachers, everything. But we live right next to Paterson. The problem is everywhere not just in the poorer areas," Beata Dolegowski said.
She has set up a GoFundMe page to help with the funeral expenses.
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